Speed limits going down in parts of Galax

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

Speed limits on various roads within the Galax city limits will be changing this month.
The Galax Police Department has advised that the public keep an eye out for changing speeds on several roads.
These changes were approved by Galax City Council after hearing a proposal from the Traffic Safety Committee. At council’s May 28 meeting, Police Chief Rick Clark presented several research findings that led to the idea for the reduced speeds.
Recently, studies were conducted to see the relationship between higher vehicle speeds and crash data, Clark told council. He hoped that the lowering of speed limits might increase the safety level on the more heavily traveled roads throughout the city.
After taking a closer look at the existing speed limit patterns, the department noticed some inconsistent speeds.
Clark offered an example: “The speed limit was set at 35 in the Roses/Krogers area, and no one anticipated development east of there with McDonald’s, Walmart, etc. There, the speed limit changes to 45, and studies show that you are more likely to be in an accident there.”
Clark pointed out that the traffic along East Stuart Drive from the eastern city limits to Fries Road and Lafayette Street counts an average of 16,000 cars per day, and is one of the more congested areas in Galax.
He shared the committee’s recommendation to lower the speed limit in that area from 45 to 35 miles per hour.
Clark proposed two other decreases.
The speed limit on East Stuart Drive was 45 miles per hour traveling west from the Fries Road/Lafayette Street intersection, and 35 miles per hour starting east from Waugh Drive. Clark shared the recommendation to change the speed limit to 45 miles per hour both ways, making the speeds consistent on both sides of the road.
The final recommendation was to lower the speed limit on West Stuart Drive to 25 miles per hour for its entire length, eliminating some 35 mile-per-hour speed limits in several residential spots along the stretch.
The first speed limit signs were replaced on July 2, shifting the marked speed on West Stuart, from Waugh Drive to the intersection with U.S. 58, from 35 to 25 miles per hour.
According to Police Capt. James Cox, the changes to East Stuart Drive will be made in the near future, but could not provide an exact date.
Council held over the recommendation to reduce the speed limit on U.S. 58 to 35 miles per hour from Fries Road to Mountain View. Consideration of this proposal was to take place at the July 8 meeting.